Wednesday, November 4, 2009


If one goes by the commercials which bombard the viewers almost every minute from hundreds of television channels, India is indeed a 'blessed' country and its citizens are the most fortunate ones in this planet having a food industry which 'lovingly' give them products that can do miracles! There is a product from a major player which claims that its newly developed product contains 33% more of the nutrient that nurtures brain cells, the natural inference being that parents must give this product to their children to make then more 'brainy'. It is another matter that the manufacturer was served a notice by the GOI Health Ministry asking them to provide scientific data to support such a ludicrous claim. If one goes by past experience nothing much is going to happen by this 'notice' and every body is happy that 'some thing' has been done, irrespective of the outcome!

There is another product blaring day in and day out about its product containing double the protein compared to milk and goes on to say that protein is necessary for fast growth. The indirect message is that since the protein content is double, the growth rate that can be expected is also double. The "23 essential nutrients" advertisement has lost much of its sheen since experts started to believe added vitamins and minerals consumed do not improve the health of the buyer and on the contrary they make the the economic health of the manufacturer "robust". Another food product tries to hammer the point that children consuming its product will be sharper, smarter and taller! The most unfortunate aspect of such rabid posturing is that even those who cannot afford even the bare daily necessities start buying them while those who are rich, any how do not need them because the milk they consume in large quantities is a much better wholesome food than any processed product in the market.

The devious way by which some of these players try to influence the minds of the consumers is not through their legitimate product labels but by sponsoring high decibel commercial claims in the electronic media. In the absence of a credible mechanism to vet the contents of such promotional programs, usually any one can get away committing serious misdemeanors. The Food Standards and Safety Authority (FSSAI) seems to be without power to do a darn thing about these offenses committed in front of millions of viewers, young and old. Probably FSSAI should assume power to bring such wayward members of the industry to books and provide deterrent punishment that will be a lesson for others.


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